Recent work with nanoparticle catalysts shows that size and shape control on the nanometer scale influences reaction rate and selectivity. Sum frequency generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy is a powerful tool for studying heterogeneous catalysis because it enables the observation of surface intermediates during catalytic reactions. To control the size and shape of catalytic nanoparticles, an organic ligand was used as a capping agent to stabilize nanoparticles during synthesis. However, the presence of an organic capping agent presents two major challenges in SFG and catalytic reaction studies: it blocks a significant fraction of active surface sites and produces a strong signal that prevents the detection of reaction intermediates with SFG. Two methods for cleaning Pt nanoparticles capped with poly (vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP) are examined in this study: solvent cleaning and UV cleaning. Solvent cleaning leaves more PVP intact and relies on disordering with hydrogen gas to reduce the SFG signal of PVP. In contrast, UV cleaning depends on nearly complete removal of PVP to reduce SFG signal. Both UV and solvent cleaning enable the detection of reaction intermediates by SFG. However, solvent cleaning also yields nanoparticles that are stable under reaction conditions, whereas UV cleaning results in aggregation during reaction. The results of this study indicate that solvent cleaning is more advantageous for studying the effects of nanoparticle size and shape on catalytic selectivity by SFG vibrational spectroscopy. © 2012 American Chemical Society.